5 talking points from Tottenham’s defeat at Chelsea
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Tottenham took an early lead at Chelsea but ultimately suffered a 2-1 defeat which ended their unbeaten record in the Premier League. Here are five talking points.
1. Wimmer is chosen at left-back
Tottenham were missing both of their usual left-backs, with Danny Rose suspended and Ben Davies injured.
That problem seemed to be behind Mauricio Pochettino’s surprising decision to rest Jan Vertonghen in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Monaco – the Belgian plays left-back for his country.
However, the partnership between Eric Dier and Kevin Wimmer was so disastrous in that midweek loss that Pochettino apparently changed his pre-arranged plan, opting to bring Vertonghen back into the centre and fielding Wimmer at left-back instead.
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It was the right call on this occasion – Spurs’ manager had to react to what happened in the centre of his defence on Tuesday – but it just shows that it is best to pick the team one game at a time and not look too far ahead.
Meanwhile, Moussa Sissoko – who voiced his desire to play Europa League games at White Hart Lane rather than Wembley in midweek and seemingly displeased his manager – was omitted from the squad altogether.
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2. Cooler heads
Tottenham’s last trip to Chelsea was an infamously bad-tempered affair, and nine Spurs players were booked, while there were two mass brawls.
Some expected another hostile encounter today, and evidence that this particular rivalry has become more hostile, but there were few flashpoints and only three yellow cards in total.
Pochettino has been keen to draw a line under May’s tempestuous encounter, and on this evidence it is indeed in the past.
3. Tottenham start well but are unable to maintain their intensity.
Spurs were quickly out of the traps, pressing energetically and putting good moves together, and they took a deserved lead in the 11th minute as Christian Eriksen lashed a swerving 20-yard strike past Thibaut Courtois, registering his first Premier League goal of the season in some style.
Chelsea initially struggled to respond and Antonio Conte cut a frustrated figure on the touchline – a mood which was matched by the home fans.
But the Blues grew into the game after the half-hour mark, got their wing-backs into the game more and levelled just before half-time before taking the lead in the 51st minute.
Spurs seemed to lose composure after that and were unable to maintain their early intensity and focus. Passes were misplaced and, somewhat understandably given the two sides’ respective schedules during the past week, Chelsea looked fresher as the game wore on, and saw the game out.
4. Defensive errors are costly again
For half an hour Tottenham were hard to break down. Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen kept Diego Costa quiet, getting tight to him on the ground and winning the aerial battles, while Victor Wanyama seemed to be everywhere.
However, just moments before half-time, Pedro was given far too much time and space on the edge of the box and the Spaniard was able to gather the ball, turn and pick his spot before finding the top right corner with a fine finish.
Then, early in the second half, the increasingly effective Costa was allowed to deliver a low cross from the by-line and Victor Moses arrived completely unmarked to put the hosts ahead.
Tottenham’s defence was such a source of strength up to the end of October but they have now conceded six goals in their last three games and Toby Alderweireld’s return cannot come soon enough. The Belgian centre-back will hopefully be back in action against Swansea next weekend.
5. The unbeaten record is over
Tottenham arrived in west London attempting to end their 26-year wait for a league win at Stamford Bridge – and in the 44th minute they were on course to achieve that feat and earn an historic victory.
Instead, it was Spurs who lost a cherished record, suffering their first Premier League defeat of the season, and they now find themselves seven points off the top, while they could be four points outside the top four this time tomorrow, if Arsenal beat Bournemouth at the Emirates.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs